Judicial Appointments: The Achilles Heel of the Canadian Judiciary

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Canadian Judiciary, Judges, Government Ethics, Judicial Appointments, Judicial Promotion


Although the Canadian legal system has many virtues, it has at least one major weakness - its judicial appointments and promotion systems. The paper begins by identifying six key values that need to be considered in order to assess the legitimacy of a judicial appointments process - independence, impartiality, representativeness, transparency, accountability and efficiency. In the following sections, through the use of three case studies of appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada, the superior courts of Nova Scotia and a promotion to the Federal Court of Canada, we demonstrate that Canada has failed to live up to these values. We conclude by suggesting that recent reforms to the judicial appointments processes by the current government are an improvement, but that more radical reforms are essential to enhance public confidence in the integrity of Canada's judicial appointments and promotion systems.